Italy - Court of Cassation, judgment no. 28153/2017

The Ministry of Interior requested for the decision concerning the recognition of the respondent’s stateless status, be overturned. The case on appeal raised two points of principle: first, the burden of proof applicable to the determination of whether a person qualifies for stateless status, as defined in the 1954 Convention; and secondly, the consideration of stateless persons as a particular category of aliens comparable to beneficiaries of international protection. The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal’s previous decision and ordered the Tribunal for a new assessment of the applicant’s status.

Case name (in original language)
Cassazione Civile Sez. 1 Num. 28153 Anno 2017
Case status
Case number
Italy -Supreme Court, decision 28153/2017
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione)
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

1954 Statelessness Convention / European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

UNHCR Guidelines on Statelessness No. 5: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality under Articles 5-9 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness


The applicant is a Roma, living in Italy. In accordance with article 1 of the 1954 Convention, the applicant was recognised as stateless by the Tribunal of first instance of Rome. The Ministry of Interior rejected the application based on the fact that the applicant had not satisfied the burden of proof, in proving the impossibility of obtaining the nationality of her country of origin. Moreover, the Court stated that the applicant’s lack of birthplace registration at the Civil Registry would suffice in meeting the threshold to prove her stateless status.  

Decision & Reasoning

The Court stated that two kind of statelessness exist: (1) original, when the individual is stateless since his birth and (2) successive, when the individual lost his original nationality without replacing it with a new one. The respondent finds herself in the second situation. Despite the reiteration of a lower burden of proof and the comparability of stateless persons with beneficiaries of international protection, the court held that the court of appeal had failed to investigate the whole situation. It inferred the impossibility of obtaining the nationality of the country of origin of the respondent only through the lack of a birth certificate without a proper investigation regarding the re-acquisition under the law of the nationality of her country of origin. It was not shown that the respondent could have obtained her previous nationality through fulfilling simple bureaucratic obligations. For these reasons, the Court determined that the respondent has not shown that she could not have obtained her previous nationality. Accordingly, the Court ordered the court of appeal to reassess her status through a complete and exhaustive investigation in cooperation with the respondent’s state of origin.


The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal’s and did not recognise the applicant’s stateless status.

Caselaw cited

Cassazione Civile Sezioni Unite Sentenza n. 15679 del 2013

Cassazione Civile Sezioni Unite Sentenza n. 14918 del 2007

Cassazione Civile Sezioni Unite Sentenza n.  4262 del 2015

Cassazione Civile Sezioni Unite Sentenza n. 28873 del 2008